The Weeknd talks about his new album ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ and reflects upon his musical success and the changes he has undergone, as reflected in his music which has become immensely popular, as single after single, from ‘Earned It’ to ‘The Hills’ and more become worldwide hits.
Yes, it’s become a cliche to say an album is “highly anticipated” but it’s the very least we can say of The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness. The very least!
It’s already got three platinum selling singles, it’s been teased all summer long, not least with a leaked tracklist which prompted himself to release the official tracklist (which you can see below).
Suddenly the 25-year-old Canadian R&B singer who had had middling fame for a couple of years is now one of the hottest global music artists. It’s just a matter of time before the spelling of his stage name won’t be auto-corrected to the weekend! Now that will really signal fame.
“Can’t Feel My Face,” “Often” “Earned It” and “The Hills” are the string of hits that have dominated pop music landscape. It doesn’t hurt one’s notoriety to be among the artist on the soundtrack of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ either, and such was the case with ‘Earned It.’ And not to mention that he was one of the numerous guest artist whom Taylor Swift has invited on stage during her 1989 World Tour. The seal of approval, as it were, from the reigning pop icon that even Apple Music bowed to.
How so, asks Rolling Stone, how and why such sudden surge in popularity? That’s the angle of their article profiling the artist whose real name is Abel Tesfaye. He says in the interview, which was conducted on a video music shoot on location in the Brooklyn neighborhood Brighton Beach, “It’s hard to walk down the street now…But I worked for that.”
Later in the interview, he reflected upon his major-label debut album, ‘Kiss Land’ of 2013 and said of it, “Kiss Land wasn’t about what people wanted to hear on the radio.” He went on to say, “It was the state of mind I was in — introverted, like David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. You didn’t know if you were hearing a chorus or a verse. It was just my thoughts.”
After the album’s lack of success, The Weeknd said, “”I just kept getting more and more depressed.” But, as he revealed, he became resolved to make changes. And that meant for him to follow the lead of his label, Republic. He said of the collaboration the label set up for him with Ariana Grande on ‘Love Me Harder,’ which was produced by hitmaker Max Martin, “At first I was kind of iffy about it.” Elaborating, he added, “Five years ago? Definitely not. I was the young starving artist that wanted to do it all by myself.”
From there grew more collaborations with Martin and, as we say the rest is becoming music history, with the runaway success of such international smash hits as ‘The Hills’ while yet still including songs which he said in the interview were reflective of his years of struggle in Toronto, where he moved at age 17. The Weeknd told Rolling Stone, “”I feel like I’m changing pop culture…Taylor Swift’s audience can listen to me, but so can the street kids. I want to touch it all.”
It’s an inspiring story, as we witness his crossover success in the contemporary music world which still has a long way to go in allowing artists to be artists and not pigeon-holed into often arbitrary, and constructing genres which benefit no one, much less the listening public.
You can see the full article and interview here.
Watch the official music video of The Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and listen to an extended preview of ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ below!
Pictures: PR Photos